A young Donegal girl with a rare illness has stood alone for the first time in her life thanks to her big-hearted neighbours and friends.
Little Sarah McFeeley, 3, was born with a rare form of cerebral palsy called Dyskininetic CP which meant even the simple things in life proved impossible for her.
But her mum and dad Ray McFeeley and Bronagh Colhoun decided they had to give their daughter every chance for a normal life.
So they decided to launch a fund-raising campaign to send her to the famous Peto Institute in Hungary.
The institute deals specifically with people with cerebral palsy and helps them through a special programme called Conductive Education.
The community in her hometown of Letterkenny and across Donegal got behind the campaign to raise the €6,000 needed for treatment.
The campaign involved everything from sponsored tattoos to beard-shaves to marathons.
While in Budapest Sarah even managed to stand alone by herself for an entire 15 seconds – something she had never done before.
Now Sarah has just returned from having her treatment at the centre in Budapest and dad Ray said she is ready to take on the world!
Ray said the sessions, often up to three times a day, were very tough on little Sarah and on himself and mum Bronagh.
“Both ourselves and Sarah have learned so much and we are going to put it to good use.
“It was tough on her at times and you just wanted it to stop but we knew we had to continue on for her sake.
“Even when we arrived they put her in a chair and I thought she was going to fall out but she held on. They knew exactly what they were doing.
“It was worth every penny going there and we are so grateful to all the people of Donegal who helped in any way to raise the money to get Sarah there,” he said.
Ray says he knows it’s going to be a long road but they are just so happy that Sarah has now been given a chance at a more normal life.
“It’s going to take a lot of work but the quality of Sarah’s life is going to be so much better after going to the Peto Institute.
“There are no miracle cures or anything like that but they do teach us ways of making Sarah’s quality of life so much better in ways we could never have imagined,” said Ray.